Freemasonry; conception, chronology, evolution

The brethren and visitors to Quingenti Lodge No 8516 were treated to a wonderful presentation by the Junior Warden of the lodge – Peter Whaley, entitled: “Freemasonry from conception, chronology and evolution.”

Peter started his presentation saying: ”It is my hope that you both enjoy it and find it informative.  One other thing that I must very much stress – these are my theories – and whereas I have trawled through many documents to arrive at this point, like anything else it is a point of view – and it’s my view as I see it!”

Peter Whalley, Junior Warden of Quingenti Lodge.

Peter Whalley, Junior Warden of Quingenti Lodge.

Starting with King Athelstan’s half-brother, Prince Edwin who presided over the Grand Assembly of York in 926 A.D. and the brethren’s perceived attachments to the Medieval Stone Masons who built the great gothic Cathedrals, Peter then referred further back in time to the fourth Chapter of Genesis where it is written: “Lamech, had two wives named Adah and Zillah; By Adah he had two sons Jabil and Jubel; By Zillab he had one son, Tubal Cain and a daughter named Naamah.”

These four children were allegedly the founders of all the Crafts in the world:  In the 4th Chapter of Genesis it is written Lamech, had two wives named Adah and Zillah; By Adah he had two sons Jabil and Jubel; By Zillab he had one son, Tubal Cain and a daughter named Naamah.

These four children were allegedly the founders of all the Crafts in the world:  Jabil found Geometry; he divided flocks of sheep and built the first house of Timber and Stone; Jubel found the art of Music and was the father of all those who handled the harp; Tubal Cain, as we well know, was the Instructor of all Artificers in metals; and his daughter Namaah discovered the Craft of Weaving

Between them, and to maintain that knowledge, they had the crafts engraved on two pillars, which Peter compared them to very early versions of ‘memory sticks’.

Peter continued: “Going back to his alleged time line of our Masonic beginnings and Flavius Jo-sephus. In his book ‘The antiquity of the Jew’s’, he informs us that it was Abraham who was responsible for teaching the seven Arts and Sciences to the Egyptians; they then passed them on to the Greeks where they were subsequently mastered by Euclid.

Euclid’s 47th proposition is the symbol that is on every ‘Past Masters Collar and Jewel’ and is more commonly known as Pythagoras Theorem – which states: That for a right triangle the square of the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides”.

It is recorded in 970 B.C. that Solomon confirmed all of the ‘Old Charges’ that had been passed on to him by his father, King David … to all of the Masons involved in the building of the Temple in Jerusalem. The Temple was finished in 964 BC.

King Solomon.

King Solomon.

Peter continued his presentation covering the Medieval Craft Guilds and famous stone masons such as Henry Yevele, who is recognised as the most prolific and successful Master Mason of the late medieval period in England. Speculative Masonry started during the 15th and 16th centuries when wealthy merchants and landowners sought to ‘buy in’ to operative lodges as a form of insurance.

The 17th century witnessed a remarkable advance in scientific knowledge. The work of Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo destroyed the old notion that the earth was the centre of the universe, and showed that the universe was immensely larger than ever was imagined. This led to a situation in which the Bible came to be seen as the authoritative source on matters of faith and morals, but no longer the guide book of matters regarding Science.

Peter said he believed Freemasonry provided a useful cover for such discussion, for what would have been at the time regarded as religious heresy with all the consequences and penalties that would befall any such perpetrators. Speculative Freemasonry was developing right at the time when enlightened thinking argued that all men shared a “natural” religion – deriving from human empathy and understanding, with a belief in general moral principles.

Peter stated that: “It’s a sad fact for Masonic scholars that documents and manuscripts pertaining to the early years of Freemasonry had been deliberately and systematically destroyed. This was so effective that in Victorian times there was even a theory that Freemasonry had not started until 1717 with the formation of the first Grand Lodge in London”

Early membership of the Craft did not just comprise of entrepreneurs, scientists and members of the Royal Academy. As quite a number of Brethren involved were Latin and Hebrew scholars who held the Biblical Old Testament and its prophets in very high regard.

Arriving at the birth of universally organised Freemasonry in 1717 – the year that four speculative London lodges met at the Goose and Grid Iron and formed the first Grand Lodge under Anthony Sayer.

Peter covered the events in 1751 when the Ancients set up their own version of a Grand Lodge to remedy what they saw as the disregard of their Masonry by the Moderns.

The two Grand Masters

The two Grand Masters

In 1797 a move was made looking toward union but the project fell through. Two years afterwards, however, the two Grand Masters, the Earl of Moira for the Moderns and the Duke of Atholl for the Ancients, acted together to have the Craft specifically exempted from William Pitt the Younger’s ‘Unlawful and Secret Societies Act of 1799’.

The differences continued until 1809 when the first steps were taken towards reconciliation when Moira formed ‘The special Lodge of Promulgation’ and with Moira’s and Athol’s guidance the two Grand Lodges started to move toward a much-desired union of the two rivals.

In the January of 1813, at a meeting of the Premier Grand Lodge, Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex, became Grand Master of the Moderns. The election of the Duke of Sussex as Moira’s successor was to prove just the first of two masterstrokes. It says a great deal for the power          .           and authority of Princes at that time that in a short period of weeks, the Dukes of Sussex and Kent knocked various heads together, and on 25 November 1813, at Kensington Palace the two Princes’ each assisted by three grand officers signed the Articles of Union.

Peter concluded his presentation by giving a brief synopsis of all the Grand Masters from the Duke of Sussex through to the current Grand Master HRH Prince Edward, Duke of Kent.

At the end of the presentation the WM Philip Gambrill thanked Peter for his presentation which was followed by loud acclamation from the brethren.

HRH The Duke of Kent.

HRH The Duke of Kent.